Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #137

Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, gives advice on where to start your novel.

Stephen Tremp, at Breakthrough Blogs, discusses an easy way to promote authors' books to libraries.

Do you ever request your library carry a fellow author's books? With the New Year upon us, this is a nice way to help each other.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rhonda's Boundaries - Virtual Luncheon - Part 5

Rhonda scans the dessert menu. "It's so hard to decide. This warm apple crostata sounds delightful. I'll give it a try.

"As for your question on how free I am to speak about spiritual matters, our community is heavily churched, filled with everything from Catholics to Amish to Mennonites of every stripe to Baptists and beyond. The newspaper gives me an amazing amount of latitude. Much of the time, I'd say I extract lessons and morals from our family stories and current events, but now and then, the Holy Spirit say, 'It's go time!,' and we speak to people in plain terms.

When a soldier from our hometown was killed in action one summer, followed by the sudden deaths of two neighbors tree days apart (both living within one-third mile of my house and both well known in the community), I sensed the Lord saying, "Speak to the people about being ready to die.' So, I did. And God used it."

After Rhonda handed the menu to Jen, I posed another question. "Wow, the time is going so fast, and I still have questions for the both of you.

"How has the column affected you and/or your family? Since Jen is deciding what she wants for dessert, why don't you go first this time, Rhonda?"

She almost chokes on her breadstick. "I thought I had time to think this over. Let's see, my family has been wonderful. Even though Mr. Schrock shuns the spotlight, he puts up with it because he believes in my gift and thinks I should be using it. The boys just roll with it. They shrug and say, "it's what Mom does.

"On a personal level,it's pushed me to face fears. Writing your heart is terrifying enough, but putting it out there for all to see..."

Rhonda shudders. "I really need that apple crostata now!" be continued.

Questions for the Reader: Rhonda puts a lot of prayer into her columns. Do you pray for your readers and ask God what take-away they need?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Tale of the Birds' Nest

My aunt and uncle own a home with a stone facade and wood shutters. The neighborhood birds discovered the adage, "location, location, location," and decided it provides an ideal place to raise a family. You see, their neighbors own several bird feeders and keep them well stocked. Very cool! A birdie supermarket right next door.

Feeling magnanimous, my aunt allowed the nest construction. She soon regretted her generosity when the "deposits" began.

The following year, they discouraged the birds from selecting their house. Ah, but the future parents persisted. Only diligent effort on my family's part kept them away.

Negative thoughts are a whole lot like those birds. They land on our heads and try to set up housekeeping.

"Traditional publication is almost impossible." Let me get my broom and sweep that thought away.

"There are so many great writers out there. What chance do I have?" Get out the craft books, study the blogs, and write, write, write.

How do you keep a positive attitude in a tough publishing climate?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Music Video - It's About The Cross

A friend sent me this video. It's awesome!

Have a blessed Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Preacher's Wife & The Newspaper - Virtual Luncheon - Part 4

Jen buttered a roll and nodded. "Spiritual themes? That's a great question. Because my column is on the religious page and I'm a preacher's wife, I talk about Jesus, use Bible verses, and share my faith all I want. I'm glad I live in a small town where talking about the Lord in the local paper is not frowned upon.

"Most of the people who read my column are already believers. I still keep in mind a small part of my audience may not know Jesus, but enjoy humorous stories.

"One friend, who is not a Christian, reads my column on a regular basis because she likes the way I write. Now, that's a high compliment! I hope and pray I am planting seeds in her life. I copy my columns and mail them to friends and relatives, some of whom aren't Christians, so I'm also getting the message out that way.

"Are you ordering dessert? Let's get something and share it, okay? Better yet, let's order three desserts and each of us share with the other two!"

I hold up both hands, "I surrender. You guys are wrecking my diet today. I'll have to spend the entire week at the gym.

"Rhonda, don't think I forgot about you. I want to know if your newspaper permits you to speak freely about your faith." be continued.

Questions for the Reader: How can we share our faith in a general market setting? Have you had any success in this area?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Too Rushed?

My computer can't keep up with me. As I click on links and race from blog to Swagbucks to email to website, it freezes. "Time out, girl! You're rushing me." I confuse the poor machine because I'm asking it to do too many tasks at one time.

Am I pushing too hard and too fast with my writing journey? Churn out that article, write that book, dash off a devotional, query that agent, friend that editor on Facebook. Someone hits the stopwatch (God?). I take a deep breath, look around, and get my bearings.

Recently, I stopped blogging at Susie's Sandbox. It was fun, but didn't move me forward on the writing path. I need that time for other pursuits.

So many things interest, intrigue, and beckon me, but I now consider how much time they'll require. Once I have an estimate, I double it. I know myself. If I'm going to do something, it will be done right.

I choose what is best over what is good. With the New Year at hand, a serious look at all the activities we've taken on and how they affect our goals is in order.

How about you? Do you stop long enough to measure your progress?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #136

Amy Andrews guest posts on Money Saving Mom about creating a time management budget. I've been reading up on this subject and thought she had some good things to say.

Do you have any time management secrets you'd like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments. :)

Some bloggers turn their corner of the blogosphere into a business. Amy Andrews shares her journey, including how to launch an e-book. I knew that subject might interest some of our readers.

Have you ever thought of writing an e-book?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rhonda Gets Encouraged (er...booted in the Posterior) - Virtual Luncheon - Part 3

Rhonda puts cream in her coffee, a LOT of it, and takes a sip. "How I got my column is a long story. I'll try to condense it as much as possible."

"For years, my husband encouraged (see 'boot in the backside') me, saying I should be writing a book. And I would say, "Oh, sure, Let me fit that right in that time slot between Mount Everest in the laundry room and that stack of reports that need to be typed.' Then, I'd say, 'Do you know how many people want to be published and never make it?'

"Basically, I just blew him off, but once in awhile, I would pray, 'God, if You have something for me with this writing business, You're going to have to show me because it seems impossible from where I'm sitting.'

"One day, Mr. Schrock 'happened' to have an interview with a local correspondent, and he mentioned his dreams for me. She told him she'd help.

"Three days later, after a wild morning with the baby, I did something completely out of character - I sat down and wrote about it. My husband laughed, and a family friend howled. He sent it to the correspondent. A week later, she emailed him. 'I think this is column material...but how about the little weekly paper (paraphrasing here)?'

"At that time, a new publisher joined The Goshen News. He wrote a column introducing himself to the community, and invited people to contact him. With fear and trembling, I sent  him that first piece, expecting it would be weeks before I heard back. That afternoon, an email came: 'I think we can use this.'

"On November 5, 2010, we celebrated the three-year anniversary of the column that started on a wing and a prayer.

Jen put down her fork. "What a cool story! But you were the only one surprised. Did Mr. Schrock take you out to supper to celebrate? Hey, Suze, what else do you want to know?"

I laughed. "You know me too well, Jen. I love doing interviews. Maybe we could put this on my blog."

"I know these are local newspapers. Do they allow you to include spiritual themes?" be continued.

Question for the Reader: Rhonda prayed for something that seemed impossible, and God opened the door. Have you ever had a similar experience? I'd love to  hear about it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hold Onto The Vision - Part II

How do we get to the point where we want to quit? I've pondered that question for several months.

I'm convinced the root is fear. With all the rejection in this industry, guarding against this enemy provides a special challenge.

I can only speak for myself, but I often wonder if I have what it takes to be a published author. Am I good enough? Oh, I can read craft books and write, write, write, but do I have that spark that grabs a reader and doesn't let go until the last page?

Yet, in my heart of hearts, I know God's called me to write. In the face of rejection, whose report will I choose to believe? Years ago, a Bible School teacher gave this anagram on fear:





Allow that to sink deep into your spirit. It will affect not only your writing, but also your entire life. I choose to believe the report of the Lord.

Have you ever dissected the root cause of your discouragement? Your wisdom and experience might help another writer.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #135

Right about now, we're all scrambling for time. With Christmas around the corner, how do we get everything done?

Crystal Paine, over at Money Saving Mom, shares her secrets on managing online time and getting more done. (Part 1)

Do you have any tips for streamlining your blogging?

Rather than save this for another post, I'm giving you the link to Crystal Paine's Part 2 on how to get more done in less time as a blogger.

Have a happy, stress-free weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Jeanette Got Her Writing Gig - Virtual Luncheon - Part 2

Jeanette scoops salad onto her plate and pauses. "I went to the editor of our local  paper with three or four column samples. I asked if I could do a regular feature and call it, 'God is Bigger.' My son, an artist, drew an Eiffel Tower held in God's hand for the logo. Since I'd done several letters to the editor, one which had been re-published in Country Magazine, they knew my writing.

"I told them I would do the column for free in exchange for a blurb at the end of each column advertising our church. The editor agreed. That was almost 11 years ago. I've received many speaking engagements and opportunities to share my faith as a result of that column. It's opened a lot of doors for my writing career, since it serves as a  plank to my platform.

"And I love it when people tell me I make them laugh! I grab the paper and say, 'let me read that. I need to laugh myself!"

Engrossed in her account, I haven't touched my salad yet. "Jen, I love the idea of the Eiffel Tower held in God's hand, but why did you choose that logo?"

She reaches for a breadstick and passes the basket to me. "Paris is the name of my town, so it was the perfect choice to catch readers' attention."

Rhonda and I exchange glances and smile. Getting readers to stay with an article challenges every writer.

The server brings our lunch, and we suspend our conversation until we're settled. "Okay, Rhonda, it's your turn. Don't leave out any of the details." be continued.

Questions for the Reader: Have you thought about writing a column? What steps have you taken to make that dream come true?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hold Onto The Vision - Part I

Glasses. Reading doesn't happen these days without them. The DMV requires me to wear them when I drive. Now, I think I see just fine, but their eye test proved me wrong. With the proper specs, I can now distinguish signs and objects I missed before.

Even as physical vision is critical to daily tasks, a purpose, direction, dream, vision, or whatever you want to call it is vital to fulfilling our destinies as writers. With the New Year approaching, it's time to take a closer look, re-evaluate, and make course corrections.

Have we stayed true to the vision and direction God gave us? Have we trusted Him with our writing dreams or have we grabbed the reins and pushed Him out of our writing life? Have we grown discouraged and lost sight of the vision altogether?

This year brought many positive events, but I also fought with the temptation to chuck the whole fiction-writing endeavor. Shocked? Don't be. Every writer comes to that crossroad at one time or another.

In next week's post I'll share more about my experience, how I overcame the weariness that set in, and how I put on a special pair of "eyeglasses" to once again focus on the direction God gave to me.

What has your year been like? Do you struggle to keep a forward momentum?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #134

What's a storm drain doing on my post? Take a walk down Blooper Lane with Kay Marshall Strom, and you'll find out.

What are some bloopers you've come across?

How do you organize your research? Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, gives tips on keeping everything neat and accessible.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jeanette & Rhonda - A Virtual Luncheon Interview - Part 1

Participants:   Susan J. Reinhardt, Christian Writer/Reader
                          Connection (You are here!)
                      Jeanette Levellie, Audience of One
                      Rhonda Schrock,
                         The Natives Are Getting Restless

Butterflies waltz in my stomach as I wait in front of the Olive Garden. This may be a "virtual lunch," but I'm nervous in a happy way. Jeanette Levellie and Rhonda Schrock are my favorite humor writers on the Internet.

Oh, there are two women getting out of a car. Classy redhead and cute brunette--gotta be them. Rhonda and Jen spot me and make a beeline for lots of hugs.

After the usual girly squeals, Rhonda grins at me. "It's such a pleasure to finally 'meet' you. I'm glad you suggested this get-together in cyberspace." She sniffs at the delectable aromas coming from the restaurant. "I can smell the breadsticks and taste the chicken scampi already. I hope they have the coffee on because nothing goes with girl talk like a fresh cup of java."

Jen's holding a package and looks like she's about to burst. "I brought you a gift, and you have to open it right now before we go inside. I can't wait."

I tear through the wrapping paper, eager to see what treasure awaits me. "Oh, what a sweetie you are, Jen." Pushing back the tissue paper, I see a lavender sweatshirt, but not just any sweatshirt--a Snoopy sweatshirt! "I love it. Snoopy is my favorite Peanuts' character."

Jen is jumping up and down. "Snoopy is sitting on top of his doghouse, writing. I special ordered it with 'Susie' printed on the side of the doghouse. Yippee, Dippee, and let's go eat!"

The three of us enter the Olive Garden, and the hostess seats us at a table next to a window. The Tuscan decor, with its gold walls, wrought iron fixtures, and colorful plates, hold special memories for me. My husband and I had our first date at the Olive Garden.

After the server takes our orders, I laugh. "Okay, now that we're all here, I want to know how you guys managed to snag a column in your local newspapers." be continued.

Questions for the Reader: Do you wish you could get together with Blogger friends, but they live too far away? How do you solve that problem? Phone calls? Personal emails?